Whether it is for Christmas or a birthday, sometimes finding the perfect gift for a little one can be a challenge. To me, two of the biggest challenges with gift buying is staying within budget, and giving something that is well suited for a specific age. Here are some of my “go to toys” for gift giving. These are just suggested age ranges, each product clearly states what age the items are suited best for. I have also tried my best to link all the products in each post so that it is easy for you to find.
Newborns to 1-year-old:
Peek-a-Boo Panada by Melissa & Doug: This is a small quality toy that babies and toddlers will enjoy. Babies enjoy the sounds of the paws clicking and learning to open and close the paws on the panada as they play peek-a-boo. (Another good one for the West Coast is the Twisting Crab by Melissa & Doug.) There is also a Peek-a-Boo Farm and Peek-a-Boo Turtle for 12+ months.
Soft Activity Books: Soft books are always a great gift. They are easy to take anywhere, typically machine washable, and have a variety of activities to stimulate your little ones. Some of my favorite soft books are:
- Peekaboo! Soft Book By Melissa & Doug
- Fire Fighter Fred By Melissa & Doug
- Dress Up Bear By Melissa & Doug
- Find the Ball Activity Book by Manhattan Toy
- Farmyard Friends Activity Book by Manhattan Toy
- Jungly Tails by Jellycat
- Skipit by BBTB Soft Book
(For more Melissa and Doug Soft Books Click Here.)
PIPSQUIGZ by Fat Brain Toys: We received these as a baby gift for our second son and they are AMAZING. They are very easy to clean, baby safe, and our kids love them. You can stick them on a high chair tray, table or to one another. (Our 1-year-old still plays with them and loves them.) They are great for the bath, travel, or dinner time distractions.
Chew Bibs by Glitter & Spice: I have done a blog post on these before, but they are truly a favorite of mine. Whether your kid is a drooler or just needs something to chew on, these are fantastic! The 100% organic cotton is wonderful for little ones with sensitive skin. Plus a great new addition to their lineup is double-sided bibs! (Check here for previous post for little ones gear.)
Stacking Cups: Stacking cups are great because they grow with your kiddo and you can do a variety of things with them. From building a tall tower or nesting them together, stacking cups are wonderful. My boys play with them for a long time and find a variety of uses for them ranging from stacking, filling them with bubbles in the bath, to using them as bowling pins in the hallway. We have the Kids Bazillion Buckets by B. Toys. Other great stacking cups include Up Up Cups by B. Toys and Green Toys Stacking Cups.
1 to 2-year-old:
Go Car by Kid-O: This car is perfect for little hands to grasp as they carry, push, and drive. We have loved this car with both of our boys. This car is great for little hands to carry on walks, drive down benches, or race down hallways.
Green Toys vehicles: Green Toys has many great products. We love some of their smaller vehicles because they are affordable, great for on the go, easy to clean and are a more compact size for storing. Some of our favorite “small” vehicles are:
** To see more of their great products visit greentoys.com.
Giraffe Grasping Toy by Melissa & Doug: My son loves his giraffe grasping toy. He loves to turn and twist it. It is a great “quiet” toy for in the car or doctors office. It is easy to wipe clean, compact for on the go, and durable for the little ones dropping games. (For more Melissa & Doug grasping toys click here.)
First Bead Maze by Melissa & Doug: Any bead maze is usually pretty good for keeping little ones entertained while helping them work on their fine motor skills. So why is this particular one a favorite? Well it is not an on the go toy, but it is a you might actually like to eat your dinner warm so this can help you type toy. This toy has suction cups on the bottom of it. You can suction it onto the high chair tray, the table, the floor or whatever surface works for you, and your little one. Now to be honest, in our house this has two levels of play. First is the moving the bead around and spinning the beads. The second is our son trying to figure out how to get it off the tray/table. Either way it entertains.
Push and Pull Toy: My boys love their Hape Lawnmower Push Pal. They drive it all over the house. When my oldest son received it as gift, he would get it out every time we vacuumed and go around the house using it to ‘clean’ the floors. Our youngest son loves running down the hall with it. The noise level is minimum which is always a bonus in our house.
2 to 3-year-old:
This was the beautiful age that my oldest son began to start getting into pretend play. Tou have to understand that he is not one to do the dress-up thing, (not even at Halloween. He thinks people are crazy to dress-up and is better to buy candy the day after the event on sale). So I did wonder if he would get into the pretend play stuff, but he LOVED (and still does love) his pretend play.
Play Food: Both of my sons love doing things in the kitchen. They love copying what they see done (hence a blog dedicated to coffee). So play food has been a big deal. A few of the plastic play foods we got ended up splitting or discoloring. I wanted to get something that could withstand my boys playing with it, and that is easy to clean for those lovely “get that out of your mouth it isn’t real food” moments. Here is a brief list of some of our favorite pretend food brands and items:
- HAPE TOY (any of their food stuff is awesome) Hape Pop Up Toaster
- Melissa and Doug Play Food: my only issue with this is that some of the velcro pieces that connect the food to other foods sometimes come off. You can glue them back on and we only had this issue twice, but something to keep in mind if you have little ones that enjoy tasting their play food.
- Green Toys Pizza: This is one of my favorite pizza sets. A friend of our has it and I just love the variation of pizza that kids can make and how it all pops together with ease.
- New Sprout – if you do prefer the plastic toy food this is my favorite brand. It has held up well to many toddler tests in our home.
Doctor Kit: My oldest son loves acting like he is a doctor or a veterinarian. When I began looking for a doctor kit I wanted something that would last and would be good quality. The Jando Doctor Kit has been wonderful! It is wooden so it holds up well to the constant use and being wiped down. The only piece I am not crazy about with this set is the bandage. It really stretches out, so we cut our into smaller pieces to make it a little easier to use. Hape also make a fantastic Doctor’s kit. (Click here to see)
Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway: Our wonderful train obsession began around when my oldest son turned 2. It started off with just bit of track and a few trains. It has grown because he loves it and even now still continues to play with his trains daily. We never did a train table because he likes to build his track EVERYWHERE. At first he just liked to destroy the track or drive his train around on the floor. Then as time went on he began driving the trains on the track and building tracks. Other starter train tracks suggestions are: Hape Train, Brio Train, and Melisssa & Doug Train set. (See my previous train blog for more info.)
Puzzles: Our Big man LOVES puzzles. After he was past the chunky and peg puzzles, we got into the floor puzzles. The best beginner one was a foam floor puzzle. The foam floor puzzle was great because the pieces handle the roughness and determination of a toddler pulling pieces in and out of the puzzle. Floor puzzles are wonderful to be able to lay out and see little ones put images together. One of our favorite floor puzzle company is Crocodile Creek.
Duplo: Duplo blocks are huge in our house. When my first son started playing with them around 18 months old, it was all about destroying what you created. As he started figuring out to put the blocks together he has loved them ever since. Our youngest son it the same way. He loves building towers or using the animals to stomp around. Here are some of our top picks for Duplo but I encourage you to explore their website as they have a ton of great sets for all interests.
- My First Bricks (Great for starting out)
- My First Cars & Trucks
- My First Farm
- Duplo Forest Park
- Duplo Creative Box
Please share what some of your favorite toy and gift ideas are the little one in your life!